CD REVIEW: Ellen Tipper - The Juggler
By Cyrus Rhodes - 01/06/2011 - 12:00 AM EST
Artist: Ellen Tipper
Album: The Juggler
Label: Independent Artist
Genre: Acoustic folk/blues/jazz
Sounds Like: Suzanne Vega, Amy Grant, Sara McLaughlin
Technical Grade: 10/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 10/10
Commercial Value: 9/10
Overall Talent Level: 10/10
Songwriting Skills: 10/10
Performance Skill: 9/10
Best Songs: Dig Down Deep, The Juggler, Caroline
Weakness: Vocal risks & vocal passion
Pianist-singer-songwriter Ellen Tipper releases her latest CD entitled “The Juggler” in 2010. Tipper comes to us from Appelton Maine. This is her sophomore release.
The CD kicks things off with the “Sweet Love” an uplifting little ditty that serves up inviting instrumentation, well-crafted melody & warm vocal presence from Tipper. This first track is like a warm & inviting welcoming mat. Track 2 shifts gears a bit with striking “Caroline” a solitary piano piece that serves up impressive musical build & a passionate vocal delivery from Tipper. Track 3: “The Juggler” shows us even more songwriting brilliance from Tipper. This piece showcases a truly amazing songwriting prowess, flawless vocal presence & well placed piano accents. As the CD slowly unfolds I can hear many musical textures reminiscent of classic vocal acts as Suzanne Vega, Amy Grant, Joni Mitchell, Sara McLaughlin, & even Tori Amos. The music itself combines classic elements of Folk Rock with an aftertaste of R&B, Soul & even Jazz. The musicianship of everyone involved is clearly above the bar. You will also notice lush layers musical instrumentation layered everywhere which besides the 4 piece standard includes Banjo, Harmonica, Fiddle, Cello, Flute, Saxophone, & well placed percussive accents. & impressive piano chops. The CD has some truly impressive moments on it showcasing impressive songwriting, world class instrumentation via Tippers honey coated vocal delivery. Zeroing in now on Tipper – her voice goes down smooth as she makes the vital (singer to listener) emotional connection. Her voice reminds me a lot of Suzanne Vega, & Amy Grant. What’s even more impressive is her piano playing abilities. Tipper can hold your attention well during some of the CD’s solitary moments. This is not as easy as it sounds, & when done properly will stop you I your tracks. Tipper executes the pin drop moments well clearly proving she is an artist worthy of your attention & praise. From my personal favorite “Dig Down Deep”, to grooving “Non La” & Keep it Raw” to passionate “Don’t want you to Know” this CD has something for just about everyone. You’ll also find Jazzy, R&B type ditty’s like on “In the Kitchen” & Rainy Mondays” The true musical personality of Tipper shines through on pieces like “Turbulent Mind” “Caroline” & “Already Gone” & “The Juggler” The CD ends with “Camden Market” a prefect finale statement for a CD like.
It’s had to find any real noticeable weaknesses with this CD. But if could say anything to Tipper it would be bring out more of that raw vocal passion especially during some of the finale moments of the music. It’s fair to say Tipper needs to let it hang out just a tad more vocally on some parts. When you take those kinds of risks it can be like capturing lighting in a bottle. When executed properly it will create musical moments that will never be forgotten. Track 1 is a bit short. I don’t like how track 5 fades out.
From start to “The Juggler” is an amazing collection of music by Ellen Tipper. Note for note, song for song there isn’t really a weak piece on this entire catalogue. All pieces are short & sweet musical experiences, each one possessing its own signature groove, & musical personality to call its own. The writing & playing abilities of this band are rock solid, the catalogue is highly diversified. But last but not least the vocal presence & amazing piano playing & songwriting abilities of Ellen Tipper just makes the whole thing work. She is infectious artists that knows how to play the piano, sing you a song a occupy a special place in your heart with her amazing artistry.
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